The people who help make a dealership successful talk about what they do all day and how they feel about what they do.
(TCR Flashback is a new series featuring still relevant articles from past issues of The Cannata Report that were originally only available to subscribers. The complete version of this article originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of The Cannata Report. To access the original unedited article a subscription is required. Subscription link below.)
Inspired by the 1972 Studs Terkel book “Working,” where the author interviewed a couple of hundred different people in different professions about what they do all day and how they feel about what they do, The Cannata Report borrowed that concept and applied it to an independent dealership. We interviewed 13 different people in 13 different roles at 13 different dealerships across the country. This was one of those interviews.
Patrick Layton, Vice President, Managed IT Services, Impact Networking
In September 2014, Patrick came to Illinois-based Impact Networking to start the company’s managed IT services division. After using his first year with the company for strategic planning, the company launched its monthly fee-based managed IT services program. With only two full years of operation, this division has quadrupled its revenues and is looking to double its staff in managed IT services this year (2018) alone.
When I started at Impact, our vision was to offer a true fully-managed IT program. In year one, we were building our plan and go-to-market strategy, determining all the tools we would be using, and developing marketing materials. I also had to determine how we were going to train a 60-person sales staff across 10 offices that are used to selling copier hardware into selling solutions and fully managed services on a monthly recurring revenue [business] model.
A big part of that first year was figuring out how to train people, how to talk about what we’re doing. I needed to connect with that 20-year old coming out of college who is type-A and see how sales are for them, as well as the rep who has been here for 10 years and makes half-million dollars selling the services we already offer here and getting buy-in from them on what we’re going to do. That was probably the biggest challenge.
Today, we offer a full-service IT program called Complete Care. You get unlimited access to our Help Desk and engineering resources, as well as any tech-related ancillary services. Our big differentiator is we offer virtual chief information officer (VCIO) services. A lot of companies now tout that, but we take it very seriously. We’re providing a high-level executive with a strong IT background to do things like long-term planning, budgeting, quarterly business reviews to make sure the IT plan still aligns with goals. We are helping clients really make the right decisions based on the research we’ve done or will do on their behalf.
On any typical day, I am doing anything and everything IT-related.
I tell everyone I interview that Impact is an established, well-oiled machine, a $100 million company; Impact IT Services is a start-up within that machine. So with now 13 locations, I need to be able to staff engineers in all of those locations, train sales staff and have the technical ability to tie all of our systems and tools together so our engineering can be effective and efficient to remain profitable.
I spend about 40% of my time at the corporate headquarters and the other 60% at any of our 13 locations. I’m up at 4 a.m. and out the door by 5 a.m. before any of my family hears me. The CIO and I are usually the first to arrive, and the rest of the staff trickles in by 8 a.m.
I have a daily plan, but like most people, about 40% of that plan usually moves to the next day. I determine what’s critical, what needs to happen, where I need to be. I usually have until 8 a.m. and then, that’s when the line starts outside my office.
It could be an admin asking me about orders that were pushed through the system. It could be HR [human resources] – that’s probably the biggest thing I didn’t expect, dealing with all the little issues that come up in working with people. Then, there’s the tech stuff that happens.
From 8 to 9:30 a.m. and 4 to 5:30 p.m., the sales teams are actually in the office, so I’ll spend time with them, helping work through ideas or solutions. There’s a lot of reeling people back in. Sometimes, it’s a good idea and involves coming up with a creative solution. Other times, it’s just, no, we don’t do that.
I’m responsible for making sure our clients are receiving the top-notch services our company offers. I have to work with my operations and engineering teams to make sure we’re doing what we say we were going to do. But I’m also responsible for a very big number of new sales every month so I’m talking to my sales team to make sure they’re working with the general sales team to keep our pipeline full.
I’m hoping to get a little more separation from the day-to-day operations of the sale. I’m still pretty heavily involved, and I like it, but in order to keep this thing growing and to move to where I need to go and do what the owners want me to do, I’ve got to separate myself a little more from that and that’s on me to further develop my managers.
But I love watching this team we’ve built. It’s exciting to build a managed services provider with a company that shares your vision and can fund doing it the right way, knowing that profits will come but right now, it’s an investment. That’s a big difference from anything else I’ve experienced in this industry.
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